F1: Ecclestone Disappointed With Schumacher Comeback

Mike Stevens | May 20, 2011

Bernie Ecclestone has admitted disappointment with Michael Schumacher's return to F1.

After his disappointing performance season last year, there were high hopes an improved Mercedes car and the new Pirelli tyres would lead to a more successful campaign in 2011.

Asked about the seven time world champion's return so far, Ecclestone told the Swiss newspaper Blick: "I am surprised and disappointed.

"I would like to see him in a Red Bull because you don't know how good the Mercedes is. Compared to his teammate Rosberg, it (Schumacher's performance) doesn't look good.

"But Michael is a fighter and he can still win. I'll be the first to cheer when he beats Vettel," the Briton laughed.

Schumacher, 42, admitted after a fraught event in Turkey two weeks ago that he is currently missing "the big joy" of F1.

Some commentators are advising the German to return to retirement, moving 1992 world champion Nigel Mansell to admit: "If things haven't improved by the end of the year, maybe what some people are saying he should take heed."

The German tabloid Express has this week even quoted a doctor as speculating Schumacher might need glasses, but Mercedes' Norbert Haug denies he is over the hill.

"I would not underestimate him or his ability. So far this year his true capabilities have been clear not in results, but in lap times - yes," the German told Salzburger Nachrichten.

And team boss Ross Brawn is quoted as saying by Reuters: "I think he's pretty resilient and I'm optimistic this weekend he'll be back where we want him."

(GMM)

Red Bull denies breaking in-season test ban

An initially innocuous 'tweet' by a Swiss test driver has stirred up a controversy involving the championship-leading team Red Bull.

Neel Jani wrote on his Twitter account this week that he "really worked my neck out" on Sunday during a 400 kilometre test at the wheel of the RB7.

The test is believed to have taken place at the Idiada venue in Spain.

The 27-year-old's comment raised eyebrows because the only testing allowed during the season is to be conducted in a straight line, but Jani said his neck was twinged due to "high speed cornering".

The offending tweets have been deleted.

A Red Bull spokesperson denied to f1fanatic.co.uk that Jani's test broke the rules.

"We did not complete high speed cornering and tested within the permitted regulations -- which is an aero test carried out on FIA approved straight line or constant radius sites," the spokesperson said.

Red Bull also claimed Jani did not write the tweets himself.

(GMM)

Alguersuari thinks Toro Rosso seats safe in 2011

Jaime Alguersuari believes his Toro Rosso seat is safe at least in 2011.

The Red Bull owned team has admitted that if the Spaniard or his teammate Sebastien Buemi are not performing this year, Daniel Ricciardo's expected 2012 debut could be pushed forward.

But team boss Franz Tost said last weekend that because Toro Rosso's current drivers are "performing well", "nothing is up for discussion at the moment".

Alguersuari, now in his second full season in formula one, was asked by the Spanish news agency EFE this week if he fears Ricciardo might replace him before the current season is finished.

"A few days ago the boss of the team, Franz Tost, said that Buemi and I are staying at Toro Rosso," he answered.

Alguersuari is yet to open his points account in 2011 but he is bullish about his chances of a good season.

"I have never been better, physically and mentally," he said, insisting he is not downhearted that his Swiss teammate has had better results so far.

"Right now the individual is not the priority, the team is. At the moment there is no room for ego."

(GMM)

Ecclestone scoffs at 'emotional' Montezemolo

Bernie Ecclestone has scoffed at Ferrari's latest 'breakaway' threat.

Some days ago the famous Italian marque's president Luca di Montezemolo warned that Ferrari and the other teams could walk away from the sport's current owners CVC at the end of the 2012 Concorde Agreement.

Asked about Montezemolo's comments, F1 chief executive Ecclestone told Swiss newspaper Blick: "Oh yes, we all know Montezemolo's emotional side.

"But how often has Ferrari actually gone?" the Briton added.

Ecclestone sounded confident about the future beyond the current commercial agreement.

"Forget the Concorde Agreement," he said. "CVC bought formula one at a time when there was basically no Concorde Agreement and the manufacturers were threatening us with a rival series.

"So it was the worst possible time to buy and yet CVC paid good money. Today the risk is even lower."

It has been suggested teams want their share of F1's revenue pie to be increased from 50 per cent in the current Concorde to 70pc in 2013.

"In the last five Concorde Agreements the teams wanted more money. There is no chance they're getting 70 percent," said Ecclestone.

(GMM)

Alonso signs new Ferrari contract through 2016

Fernando Alonso has signed up with Ferrari for another five years, the Italian team announced on Thursday.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said last week he hopes to keep the Spaniard, who joined the Maranello based outfit last year, for "a long time".

Thursday's press release said Ferrari "has renewed its technical and racing agreement" with Alonso, 29, through the end of 2016.

"Fernando has all the required qualities, both technically and personally to play a leading role in the history of Ferrari and I hope he will be enriching it with further wins very soon," said Montezemolo.

Alonso said there is "no doubt" he will end his F1 career with Ferrari.

Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel has said many times that he would like to join Ferrari one day, but the presence of Alonso through 2016 would seem to make that unlikely in the foreseeable future.

German Vettel, however - whose own Red Bull contract extends through 2014 - said in Barcelona that Ferrari is still an option.

"I never said it's impossible (to go there) if Fernando, Felipe Massa or anyone else is there. I know a team is always two drivers," the 23-year-old runaway championship leader is quoted by the German news agency SID.

"But I'm not making any headlines; I'm happy where I am right now," Vettel insisted.

Spaniard Alonso, meanwhile, warned that his new five-year deal could ultimately be extended even further.

"By the end of 2016, I will have been with Ferrari for seven years and maybe for 2017 I can sign another contract with Ferrari if I am not too old and if they are still happy with me," he laughed on Thursday.

(GMM)

Abu Dhabi now delaying layout change decision

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix organisers are reviewing their decision to tweak the Yas Marina layout in order to increase the chances of overtaking.

Last year's season finale was so processional at the otherwise spectacular venue that the organisers had committed to making some changes.

But the 2011 rules, including the 'DRS' overtaking system and the heavily degrading Pirelli tyres, have produced such exciting races so far that Abu Dhabi is now committing only to watching the next few rounds of the calendar with great interest.

"Definitely, the new regulations have made formula one more exciting, but we will be watching the next couple of races keenly to see how they unfold before making a decision," track boss Richard Cregan told The National.

"We are looking at the circuit changes and will make a final decision in consultation with FIA and the various stakeholders at the end of this month," he added.

"We need to question whether spending money on changing the track to improve overtaking is really necessary at this point in time when the issue has already been addressed by the FIA and the race teams -- and the result has been absolutely phenomenal racing.

"Digging up the track even for minor changes is very expensive, so we need to make sure it is the right step forward and also the right time to close the circuit. To make alterations would result in a loss of revenue, so that must be considered, also," said Cregan.

(GMM)

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Filed under: f1, Racing, sebastian vettel, michael schumacher, ferrari f1, bernie ecclestone, red bull f1, fernando alonso, News, enthusiast

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